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A word or two about your letters

A word or two about your letters A word or two about your letters

In the 12 years I’ve worked here, I can’t ever recall receiving this many letters to the editor in just a few days’ time. It started last week, when a letter came in from a local reader, followed by two more shared by our sister paper, The TRG in Loyal.

Then, over the weekend, three people submitted letters through our website, along with two more through email. On Monday morning, two more letters arrived in my inbox. And then a local reader dropped one off at the office.

Wow. Talk about a deluge, a classic “when it rains, it pours” situation.

Personally, I couldn’t be more thrilled. In recent years, I’ve been disappointed by what seemed like a steady and irreversible decline in letters to the editor. I blamed the internet for conditioning people to write all of their opinions on Facebook posts, tweets or other online message boards. These venues all serve the purpose of quickly churning out any thought that pops in your head and makes its way to your fingertips. But, sitting down to write an actual letter takes a little more time and effort to make an argument that is usually more than “140 characters.”

We here at the newspaper appreciate that effort, and we want to provide a forum for our readers to provide their perspectives on local, state and national issues. The fact that we’re barreling toward a highly polarized presidential election with COVID-19 and racial tensions stirring strong emotions means the letters are going to come faster and with more ferocity than usual. We get that.

But we also want our letter writers to know that we have a couple of restrictions to consider. First is the ever-present issue of space constraints. When we get hit with four or more letters in one week, we are likely going to have to hold some, and a few may never run, especially if they are repeating the same message from the same people or come from writers outside of our coverage area.

Second is the sticky issue of candidate endorsements. If you look at our letters to the editor policy, which runs every week on page 2, you’ll notice this line: “Federal and state candidate endorsements will not be published.” We added this line because wedon’twanttobetakenadvantage of by political parties who are willing to spend untold sums of money advertising in other forms of media while expecting free endorsements in newspapers. If you want to tell people who to vote for, we ask that you pay for that privilege.

Of course, what constitutes an “endorsement” is often a matter of debate at the office. We don’t want to stifle conversations about the issues and candidates in the news, but we also don’t want to turn over our pages to political parties with agendas. That balancing act will continue from now until Election Day.